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Mental Health Association in Orange County, Inc.


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Silver Bell Award
Damola Akinyemi
Mental Health Association in Orange County (MHA) is honored to award this year’s Silver Bell to our good friend, Damola Akinyemi. Damola was born in Nigeria, also known as "the Giant of Africa”, as it is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. He attended college in Africa and has traveled the world. He is a former semi-professional basketball player in Europe. He moved to America almost a decade ago and is currently a fitness expert.

Damola is the founder and owner of Studio Ayo Fitness in Middletown, one of the most popular

fitness venues in the Hudson Valley. Furthermore, Damola works at GoshenSecure Center supporting and motivating youth through fitness and mentorship. Damola was one of the first Zumba instructors in our community, serving as the ambassador of this fitness craze that has swept the country. He is arguably the most popular Zumba instructor in Orange County.

Damola has stated that his passion for Zumba goes beyond its fitness benefit, but it is also the fact that this form of dance/exercise brings many cultures together. Zumba’s choreography incorporates hip-hop, salsa, soca, samba, merengue, mambo, reggaeton, flamenco, cumbia, tango and martial arts.

Damola is widely known for his kind, motivated, enthusiastic demeanor and his unwavering commitment to community service. He succeeds and excels unlike most everyone else, because his efforts combine what he knows, with what he feels: an innate talent and love for living life and contributing to his community. His enthusiasm and positive approach are infectious, and as most of us are aware, his energy and uplifting spirit are unparalleled. More importantly, he is a person with a passion for life that spills over to anyone who encounters him. He believes strongly in the need for people to work together, share their insights and unite in concert for the betterment of a cause or mission. Mental Health Association in Orange County, Inc.

The very mention of Damola’s name consistently evokes a smile. That sentiment stems from the authentic and upbeat attitude that he is known for presenting himself and integrating with others.

Damola is a very spiritual man with a strong social conscious. He has held several fundraisers to support relevant causes and benefit community agencies in Orange County. His philanthropic efforts include, but are not limited to the American Cancer Society - Breast Cancer, March for Babies, Safe Homes of Orange County, and Orange Regional Medical Center’s “Regional Lend a Hand for Kids” Campaign.

He has sponsored fundraisers to benefit MHA’s programs including CAPIS (to benefit Tourette Syndrome), Rape Crisis Program, and several for Autism Move a Thon of Orange County (AMOC). Additionally, Damola has donated his time at AMOC’s Move-a-Thon to lead Zumba as the “warm up” prior to the walk. 

It is important to note that, under Damola ‘s leadership, Studio Ayo instructors and staff also donate their time to support the fundraisers. They are highly enthusiastic, professional and talented. Additionally, they exhibit remarkable respect, kindness and sensitivity to MHA’s program participants.

Damola is a principled and accomplished individual. He uncompromisingly upholds core fundamental values that promote high-quality of life to all of us. He is authentically generous. It is this generosity of spirit that moved us to recognize Damola tonight. He legitimately loves being a part of the community. He thrives in an environment that exemplifies everything that is good in us, human service providers, and he openly expresses that he gains so much by witnessing and contributing to the important work done here, in our Orange County community. 

Damola is happily married to Roslyn for over two years. They live in Middletown with their precious four month old son Isaac.

Over the past eight years, Damola has had a history of direct and indirect activities that benefit the individuals we serve and ultimately has contributed to the mission and values of MHA.  Therefore, it is an honor, shared with the Orange County community, to  bestow upon Damola Akinyemi, MHA in Orange County’s prestigious 2014 Silver Bell Award.

Corporate Bell Award
SUNY Orange
MHA has an extensive and rich history of collaboration with SUNY Orange for well over two decades. Much of the history began with Peter Alberghini, MHA’s former Board President, who served as the Director of Planning and Development as well as a professor at SUNY Orange. This fruitful affiliation was the beginning of a long partnership between MHA and the college. For a number of years, MHA’s annual meetings took place at Morrison Hall.

One of MHA’s critical services, the Rape Crisis Program, has worked together with SUNY Orange on a number of initiatives. MHA and SUNY Orange Wellness Center have actively organized Clothesline Projects every April and September at both the Newburgh and

Middletown campuses. These compelling displays are comprised of T-shirts memorializing individuals who have been affected by physical and sexual violence. The Clothesline is intended to become a form of healing for those who have lost a loved one or who have survived violence as well as provide a visual impact regarding the extent of this problem. SUNY Orange personnel and students have been active participants and have fully supported this project on both campuses.
Other ways in which SUNY Orange welcomes the Rape Crisis Program’s services include prominently displaying Rape Crisis fliers in the health offices, inviting MHA staff to provide professional training to security guards and co-sponsoring a self-defense class for students and college personnel. MHA has also been invited to take part in the SUNY Orange Student Health Fair each year.

Additionally, MHA and SUNY Orange Wellness Center partnered to provide a workshop on Eating Disorders, titled “Someday Melissa” which was a documentary about a teenager and her family struggle with bulimia. As a result, a “Family Members and Friends Support Group for Those with Eating Disorders” was formed and continues to meet monthly at MHA.  Mental Health Association in Orange County, Inc..

Furthermore, SUNY Orange Occupational Therapy Department Chaired by Flo Hannes, MS, OTR, FAOTA, past MHA Board Member, has provided students with an opportunity to be a part of one of Orange County’s collaborative projects with MHA known as the Coordinated in Home Supports (CIHS) Program. SUNY Orange students provided a full day of activities for families and children/young adults with Autism developing therapeutic activities. Flo Hannes also was instrumental in organizing training for parents of children with developmental disabilities discussing the iPad and iPod apps, features and accessories to support children with developmental disabilities in their daily lives. 

Moreover, SUNY Orange Nursing Department developed a positive association with MHA. Through the years, numerous nursing students have interned at MHA’s Hudson House Psychosocial Clubhouse as part of their clinical rotation. Likewise, many MHA programs have received the benefits of countless SUNY Orange students who have interned with the agency. SUNY staff and students are invariably welcoming of MHA program participants and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.

As a result of many years of a strong partnership and collaboration, SUNY Orange has directly impacted MHA services and has actively assisted in furthering our mission. Therefore, MHA is most honored to bestow SUNY Orange with the 2014 Corporate Bell Award.

Mental Health Association in Orange County, Inc.
Silver Bell Award Recipients

2014 Damola Akinyemi

2013 Sid Hirschfeld

2012 Chris Ashman

2011 Ann Marie Maglione

2010 Frank Fornario

2009 Glenn Liebman

2008 Antonio Figueroa

2007 Jonnie Wesley-Krueger

2006 Arthur J. Gloeckler

2005 Jo Anne Gurda

2004 Edward Diana

2003 Peter Alberghini (Posthumously)

2002 Lucinda Sloan Mallen

2001 Greg Gilman

2000 Malcolm & Gerry Stewart

1999 Araceli “Jenny” Flanagan

1998 Carmine Caruso

1997 Harriet Goldsmith

1996 Harriet L. Corn

1995 Janet E. Rogers

1994 James Bopp

1991 Nathalie Weeks

1990 Frank Palm

1989 Mary McPhillips

1988 Rudolf Lindenmaier

1987 Rev. Keith Mahoney

1986 Jeanne E. Jonas

1985 Thomas Collins

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